2013 End of Session Wrap up: Elections

This post summarizes the status of election bills that MACo either considered or took a position on.

Elections By Mail: HB 196 /SB 171 would authorize counties to hold special elections by mail if a resolution adopted by the county council or board of county commissioners directs the special election to be held in this manner. If local elected officials authorize a special election to be conducted by mail, there are specific criteria that must be followed. One such requirement is that a voting center be established located at the local board office or another location to give voters an opportunity to cast a ballot, instead of returning by mail. The office would need to be open for voting beginning 6 days before the special election through the day of the election between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.  MACo did not take a position on this legislation.

Final Status: Both bills passed the General Assembly.

Improving Voter Access: HB 224 / SB 279 is an Administration bill that would expand the number of early voting locations in some jurisdictions and days/hours of operation, provide for voter registration during early voting, and improve access to absentee ballots.  Other changes in the bill would expand the number of early voting centers, mostly based on population, but give some counties the option of establishing an additional site over the number specified in the bill.  The bill also requires the State Board of Elections to study how to reduced the average voter time to no more than 30 minutes and improve the security of online delivery and marking of absentee ballots and other online voter services. MACo did not take a position on this legislation.

Final Status:  Both bills passed the General Assembly.

Reporting By Precinct HB 592 would require that election results provided by local boards be reported by precinct for each candidate or question voted on during the election. MACo did not take a position on this bill.

Final Status: HB 592 passed the House, but no action was taken on the bill by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Subsequent Absentee Ballots:  HB 974 would allow a voter who receives an absentee ballot to request to be placed on a list to receive an absentee ballot in a subsequent election. MACo did not take a position on this bill.

Final Status:  HB 974 passed the House, but no action was taken on the bill by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

Campaign Finance Reform: HB 1499 / SB 1039 would make a number of changes to the State’s campaign finance laws focusing on campaign contribution limits, contributions by business entities, and the disclosure of contributions by those doing business with the State, to name a few.  The bills would also authorize a county to establish a system of voluntary public campaign financing. If a county chooses to do so, the system must provide for a public election fund administered by the county’s chief financial officer; and be subject to  oversight by the State Board of Elections. A county system may have more stringent regulation of campaign finance than State law. MACo did not take a position on this legislation.

Final Status:  HB 1499 passed the General Assembly.  SB 1039 died in the House Rules Committee.

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